WALES senior men’s head coach Wayne Pivac has named his team to face France at Principality Stadium on Friday 11 March (KO 8pm live on BBC and S4C).
Josh Navidi, who returned to the squad earlier this week following injury, is named at open-side flanker. He makes his first appearance for Wales since facing France in last year’s Guinness Six Nations, a match in which he scored his first Test try for his country.
Seb Davies is selected at blind-side flanker, his third start for Wales in this position and first appearance in the starting XV since the Australia match last autumn. Taulupe Faletau (number 8) completes the back row.
Starting his second match for Wales, Gareth Thomas is named at loose-head prop. He joins Ryan Elias (hooker) and Tomas Francis (tight-head prop) in the front row.
Wales’ back three remains unchanged with Josh Adams and Alex Cuthbert selected on the wings and Liam Williams named at fullback.
Francis and Adams have been managed clinically by Wales medical personnel in following all of the required return to play protocols, as specified in the World Rugby Regulations. Having suffered no adverse reactions and no complications in successfully completing each stage of the return to play protocols, both are available for selection.
For the fourth consecutive match Will Rowlands and Adam Beard continue in the second row, while Captain Dan Biggar is at fly half and Tomos Williams at scrum half.
Jonathan Davies comes in to partner Owen Watkin in the centre. Nick Tompkins has not been considered for selection as he sustained a concussion in Saracen’s victory over Leicester Tigers last Saturday.
Among the replacements Dillon Lewis returns as tighthead cover and Louis Rees-Zammit is also named. Wyn Jones, Dewi Lake, Jac Morgan and Ross Moriarty are the other forward replacements. Kieran Hardy and Gareth Anscombe provide half back cover.
Wales head coach Wayne Pivac said: “Josh [Navidi] is a fantastic player and has played well for us in the past. He’s come back before straight back into the side so having 80 minutes under his belt for Cardiff we think that’s enough for him and we look forward to him being back out there bringing that experience. He’s a very good player and has played at this level on many occasions so that’s going to be great for us.
“Seb at six just gives us a little bit more size. It helps the lineout, but also in the wider channels where he often runs he’s got the skillset to trouble a few defenders out wide.
“I think Gareth made a really big impact for us last week as did a number of players and so he gets to start. Wyn will finish the game this time as opposed to starting it.
“France are the in-form team in the world at the moment. Any team that can score 40 points against New Zealand plus having recently beaten Ireland in this competition are going to be hard to beat. They have players a number of world class players and are a big side that will test us physically and at the set piece.”
“We’re really excited to be back at Principality Stadium this week. The guys love playing at home. It’s just fantastic having the crowd there. I think there’s still a few seats left so we’d encourage people to get along and support the team.”
Wales senior men’s team to face France (Friday 11 March, KO 8pm. Live on BBC and S4C)
15. Liam Williams (Scarlets – 77 caps)
14. Alex Cuthbert (Ospreys – 50 caps)
13. Owen Watkin (Ospreys – 29 caps)
12. Jonathan Davies (Scarlets – 95 caps)
11. Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby – 37 caps)
10. Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints – 98 caps), captain
9. Tomos Williams (Cardiff Rugby – 32 caps)
1. Gareth Thomas (Ospreys – 8 caps)
2. Ryan Elias (Scarlets – 26 caps)
3. Tomas Francis (Ospreys – 63 caps)
4. Will Rowlands (Dragons – 16 caps)
5. Adam Beard (Ospreys – 32 caps), vice-captain
6. Seb Davies (Cardiff Rugby – 15 caps)
7. Josh Navidi (Cardiff Rugby – 28 caps)
8. Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby – 87 caps)
16. Dewi Lake (Ospreys – 3 caps)
17. Wyn Jones (Scarlets – 41 caps)
18. Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Rugby – 36 caps)
19. Ross Moriarty (Dragons – 52 caps)
20. Jac Morgan (Ospreys – 2 caps)
21. Kieran Hardy (Scarlets – 9 caps)
22. Gareth Anscombe (Ospreys – 30 caps)
23. Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby – 14 caps)